The Constitutional Right of Poor People to Appeal Without Payment of Fees: Convergence of Due Process and Equal Protection in M.L.B. v. S.L.J

In this Article, Professor Lloyd Anderson examines the recent decision M.L.B. v. S.L.J., in which the United States Supreme Court held that due process and equal protection converge to require that states cannot require indigent parents who seek to appeal decisions terminating their parental rights to pay court costs they cannot afford. Noting that this decision expands the constitutional right of cost-free appeal from criminal to civil cases for the first time, Professor Anderson discusses the characteristics a civil case should have in order to qualify for such a right. Professor Anderson proposes a number of other civil cases, primarily those in which a fundamental right is at stake, in which poor people should also have a constitutional right to appeal without payment of court costs.